Climate Crisis: Things You Can Do When You Can’t Even

Even if you can’t be there in person on September 20th to protest for action on climate change, there are things you can do.

We will not be able to be there: our family’s disabilities mean hanging out in crowds at the best of times is a bad idea. But even if (like us) you can’t be there in person, there are things you can do to help with the climate strike.

Climate Crisis: Things You Can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Rosemary plant cutting in jar on windowsill

Contact Your Local Representative

It is easy for politicians to write off climate protests as just ‘fringe’. This becomes much harder when they are inundated by messages, letters, phone calls or comments on social media from people in their electorate. One letter can go a long way.

Remember: politicians aren’t really leaders, they are followers. Give them a good reason to do something, like the threat of losing their job at the next election and watch those policies flip. But don’t wait for them. Start doing what you can today.

Contact Businesses

If you love what a business is doing to help the climate – contact them and thank them! Remember: businesses are there to make money. If doing good actually increases their sales or profile, they will be more likely to keep doing it.

Use a business which isn’t quite up to scratch? Then send them a message too. Keep it polite, and be prepared to walk if they don’t change. Maybe research alternatives on Sept. 20th.

We changed our power supplier years ago when we realised we could ‘go green’ AND cut our power bill at the same time. Sometimes, there are win – win solutions out there!

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Pink nectarine flowers on tree with fence and geraniums in background
Nectarine flowers from our self-seeding tree.

Plant Something!

Go plant a plant if you have a garden – or a spare pot. Start a compost or bokashi bin (some councils offer discounts to buy one). Look up if your council does green waste / food waste recycling – good for all the food waste that can’t go in the compost easily!

We started keeping the tops of carrots with leaves. Then we plant them. It’s not about getting carrots – just having green in the garden. It’s an experiment! Check out the sad forlorn section of your fridge. You may have a sprouting vege or two you can chuck in a pot already.

I personally love propagating rosemary. I put cuttings of rosemary all around the house (they look beautiful), and when they develop roots, in the garden they go!

NB. We don’t ‘own’ our garden. We sought permission from the body corp of our flat to redevelop a neglected corner of the common area. Now we have orange, lemon and apple trees, rosemary, peas, strawberries, nectarines, a few native shrubs and trees, lavender, lilies and lots and lots of geraniums. It’s Darwinian gardening (if it lives under our neglectful brown thumbs, it stays).

I know it feels like a small thing: but we won’t ‘fix’ things with one big magic wand. It’s going to take lots of people doing lots of different things. Small doesn’t mean nothing!

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Carrot Leaves planted in mulch
Carrot tops growing in our garden. They like it here.

Reduce Something If You Can’t Get Rid of It

We do our best to eliminate things like plastic but – newsflash! With severe allergies in the house, we *have* to use stuff that is in packages. Alas, every bulk site we have found has so much cross contamination, it’s a death zone.

But we do our best. We cut down where we can’t eliminate: Each bit of plastic not used, is one less bit of waste. And using the plastic you have is better than throwing it away. No one’s perfect. And if you get too caught up in being ‘perfect’, you’re going to start getting grumpy, and pretty soon you’re in the ‘eh, this is too hard’ zone.

Try One More Meal a Week Without Meat

With all the crazy food problems we have, it is very hard for us to do certain things. But we’re experimenting and know that everything we do helps. It feels small – but if enough people do it, it starts to have a big impact.

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Pea flower back-lit in sun. Rosemary and wooden fence in background.
Pea plants in our vegetable bed. Second generation!

Go Local

The less stuff travels, the less carbon emissions it has, and the better for our climate – an us. Shop as local as you can – don’t be put off if you can’t, but even one change can (cumulatively) make a difference. Ditto for your own travels: we use public transport where we can. And walking can be a lot of fun!

Borrow, Don’t Buy

Most stuff we buy will eventually end up in landfill, probably spitting out methane. If you can borrow it rather than buying it – bonus! We use libraries for so many things. We even use the *gasp* clothesline to dry our clothes. And in winter (because Melbourne) we traipse our clothes down to the local laundromat to use their dryers (We do the washing at home). Trust me: if you have to haul it in a backpack for 10 mins, you really begin to question just how necessary it is to use the dryers.

We actually only end up using dryers a few weeks a year (at most). And this was true even when we were doing cloth nappies. Don’t get me wrong: dryers are awesome. But they are also amazing energy sucks. As I have frequent periodic bouts of ill health we cut down as much as possible on the ‘work’ of cleaning. Shirts are put on clothes hangers before we haul them to the line (no wrinkles, then straight in the cupboard afterwards). No ironing unless absolutely necessary (and usually it’s not).

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Mint plant with broken pipe in garden
Mint. Even poisoning it won’t stop it.

Buy Secondhand or Ethical

As a sewist, I really dislike most clothing available to buy. My hubbie is often amused at my idea of clothes shopping. He and the kids will wait outside for the 30 secs it takes me to decide if the clothes are worth buying. (Hint: It’s in the seams. No point trying it on if it’s going to fall apart after a couple of wears.) If I’m in the store for more than 30 secs, then they will come in too.

Better quality stuff (including hand made) usually ends up at op shops. Which is where I try to go first.

Second best is to use something like the Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Guide. This goes to a lot of effort to check just how ethical (and green) a particular clothing brand is really. Sometimes, I am even pleasantly surprised.

And sometimes, yes, I give up and just make my own stuff. Even something as simple as knowing how to sew on a button, hem pants, patch holes or take in a seam can make an outfit go from ‘meh’ to ‘I will wear it for years’!

Volunteer if You Can

Find an environmental group and volunteer your time if you can. This is not something we find easy to do: but I know many families who have had a blast working in wetlands, restoring creeks or planting trees.

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Orange blossoms with fence in background
Orange blossoms. They smell divine. And we haven’t killed it yet.

Cut Down Energy Usage Where You Can

We are lucky to own our little flat. We put in double glazing to cut down our energy bills. If you own your roof, have a look at whether you can get solar and/ or batteries – often the local council will have a program for that too.

But even something simple like putting up double curtains will help a lot. And I mean curtains, not just block out blinds. Even two old sheets pinned up will cut heat loss a real lot.

Most places have really bad insulation. And windows are the worst – particularly old drafty ones that leak when it rains. (Did I mention we replaced all our windows? Yeah. I like the rain on the outside of the house.)

Signal Boost

Share photos and messages about what you are doing: you may inspire someone. If that’s too much: find peeps who are making a difference and share their stuff. Even if you can’t storm the barricades, your voice is important – particularly if you’re the sort who ‘never gets involved’. A share from you might be the kick someone else needs to start themselves.

No One is Perfect: But Don’t Give Up

We are in a climate crisis here. It’s never going to be just one thing that will ‘fix the climate problem‘. And there are often really good reasons why some particular action is just not possible.

But, and this comes from the bottom of my ADHD heart, if you go into this feeling guilty at not being enough, you will probably give up.

Do what you can. One step at a time. Do one thing, and when that’s a real habit, add a second small thing. Keep doing that. Enjoy it! Keep getting excited at doing the small thing.

Watch your baby plants grow (the ones that survive). Try again if they don’t. Dandelions make great tea, BTW. Geraniums are hard to kill (but I have done it.) Rosemary is pretty hardy. Weeds still make oxygen, and great compost.

Climate Crisis: Things You can Do When You Can't Even |

Image: Pink nectarine flowers with garden in background
I love our nectarine. It just appeared and we let it stay. Darwinian gardening at its best.

Small is Something: It is Never Just All or Nothing

Our family deals with catastrophizing every day: I can’t do the thing – ALL things are IMPOSSIBLE!

It’s never true. But it does lead to hiding in cupboards and never going outside (at least, that’s MY solution, lol.)

Your small thing may not feel like enough. Heck, it may not be enough. But every thing that you do is one small shuffle away from the cliff face. It – with luck – it will make the heroic leaps that will probably be necessary not quite so impossible.

Hold on to hope and do as many small things as you can to help. Pick yourself up when you don’t live up to your own expectations (you won’t all the time anyway). And if enough people do enough small things, who knows? We may even save the planet and our climate.

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